Loving within Boundaries

“Love her, but leave her wild” – Atticus

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I have loved that quote, long before I met Mr Wild (and became Mrs Wild) – the sense of freedom it promises in a kind of love that does not impose itself upon another… well, I am pretty sure I am not the only person to want to be loved in such a way.

I’ve begun reading a book, “Boundaries in Marriage” by Dr’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Wow.  I love it when Holy Spirit brings a seasonal word for a timely revelation! I’ve always had fairly negative associations when it came to the concept of Boundaries – either it was a restriction enforced upon you by another, or it felt like a selfish and manipulative way to gain control… both are so dangerous and well, untrue.  Boundaries are important in all relationships, and especially within the context of marriage. Yes, in a spiritual sense, we become one person, but in reality we are still two individuals carving a life together.  Boundaries protect our individuality while nurturing our relationship.

After two evenings of eye-opening revelation, this is what I have learnt –

Boundaries require Ownership. We each need to take ownership of our own thoughts, attitudes, feelings, words and behaviour.  They’re ours. A sign of a healthy, mature person is their ability to ‘own’ both their triumphs and their mistakes – not to blame others or find excuses, but simply ‘own it’.  (And what I had to learn is I cannot ‘own’ my husband’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions… nor could I change them.)

Boundaries create Freedom (and Responsibility).  As Christians, we have been Redeemed by Jesus’ blood and have been free’ed from the power of sin and death.  We are called to live lives that testify of His freedom.  Boundaries protect that freedom and remind us to continually remove any thought, habit, attitude (etc) that infringes upon or denies both our own and our partner’s freedom.  We have a Responsibility to protect the Freedom Jesus has given us.  What I learnt was that I do not need to take Responsibility for my husband’s choices or actions – and I also do not need to allow his choices or actions to infringe upon my Freedom in Christ.  I am not a victim of his choices or actions.  While he will face the consequences of his choices, I can choose whether I allow them to impact me.  It may be my responsibility to lovingly bring fears/ lies/ inappropriate thoughts or actions into the light – but it is not my responsibility to change them.  That’s between him and Holy Spirit.

Boundaries allow us to Love, freely.  Because we take ownership of our selves, and continually seek to dwell in the Freedom found in Jesus, we have an amazing ability to ‘Love, Regardless’ – loving the other person regardless of how they love us back; loving the other person regardless of their attitudes/ actions being worthy of love… we don’t become doormats.  Rather, by being seated in Heavenly places with Christ, we can freely extend Love and Compasssion and Grace without needing to have it returned in the same measure.

There’s a Liberty that comes when we walk closely in Jesus’ presence.  And this liberty only evokes a greater understanding of the need to take Ownership, fight for our Freedom, and consequently extend deeper Love… its a cycle that draws two people into a greater depth of relationship.  Boundaries allow for this to happen.

Boundaries are becoming my new favourite ‘thing’ – created within a pure heart, seeking God’s best for our relationship.

 

Create a new, clean heart within me.[a]
Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you.” – Psalm 51:10 TPT

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you.” – Psalm 139: 23-24 TPT

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Beyond the Happily Ever After…

Seven weeks ago today we said our ‘I do’s’ and walked off into the sunset…

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So now what?

We have been incredibly lucky – the adjustment to married life has been a fairly effortless one. Sharing our space and finding the balance of daily life routines (and negotiating the toothpaste cap, toilet seat and other petty issues) hasn’t proven difficult at all. As I say, we’re lucky in that way… so to make things interesting we decided to throw our lives upside down and start not one, but TWO new businesses – because why not? What else do newly weds do with all their spare time..?  Oh, and Garth has enrolled at UNISA to take on a short course for 2019.  Its quite exciting.

But what’s closest to my heart is Hello Love Events.  I have had the idea brewing in my spirit for well over six months and we put it off to focus on getting the wedding organised, but now that that’s over, we felt the new challenge could be faced.

As a single in her 30s, I found it exceptionally hard to meet new people and even easier to stay cocooned on the couch at home.  It was an unhealthy cycle.  And to be honest, as much as I loved my married friends, many spoke to me about meeting single men but none ever actually did anything about it… sorry to those reading this… yes, I know God had a plan and Holy Spirit has written our Love Story quite clearly, but. The more I have thought and prayed about this issue, the more Holy Spirit has laid on my heart the deep loneliness of Christian singles in churches across the city.  Hello?? If we preach ‘family’ why are there so many desperately lonely single 30-somethings sitting on couches over weekends with nothing to do? Not okay. And that’s the need I felt Holy Spirit lay on my heart: create opportunities for singles to meet, have fun in a relaxed environment and simply build relationships with other Christians, outside of their usual church circle… and so, Hello Love Events stepped out in faith, developing a Facebook page (because if its on Facebook, its Official…) and arranged our first Singles event in February.

We kept the event simple and fun and were amazed at the response – people were so grateful that somebody cared enough to arrange something.  It was a small step, but we are looking at building slowly and surely, trusting Holy Spirit to lead – as He has every step of our relationship so far… I don’t know where this will lead, but am trusting it forms part of a bigger picture that Holy Spirit occasionally gives me glimpses of.  Its not much, but its a start and we’re both hoping that as we step out and share our own Love Story, we will start hearing other Holy Spirit written Love Stories too…

Esther Season

Shortly before we got engaged, Holy Spirit told me to approach the upcoming season as a ‘Esther Season’ – Christian talk for a season of intentional preparation. Immediately my girl mind went to the details of her beauty treatments in the lead up to her meeting the king. Boy, how wrong I was…

In reading the book, I was actually a little surprised to see how the whole year of beauty treatments and special diet is summed up in one verse. One. I began to think Holy Spirit had something else in mind. The book of Esther is probably most well known for a verse in chapter 4, “…who knows but that you have been given this royal position for such a time as this?” And yet, it is merely a question that forms a vital catalyst for everything that happens next. Being positioned royally does not seem nearly as glamorous as fairytales and instagram like to portray – you only need to spend 5 minutes on social media to see how the world has a new obsession of everything “Queen”; its as if being a Queen means deserving extra-ordinary respect and a life of luxury. Um, if Queen Esther is anything to go by, the world has gotten it just a little wrong… yes, I am sure she had a fairly comfortable life, but when she (and the jewish people) were threatened with a death sentence, she couldn’t stamp her foot and demand things be changed. She had to approach the king. And if he didn’t want to see her: she would die. Not exactly glamorous.

But as Queen, she had a responsibility to stand up for those around her. Even if it meant facing a very real danger. Reading how she faced the threats before her, made me realise that she models something worth learning for marriage: before she took on the threat of the enemy, Haman, she fasted for three days – she took her problem to God. Secure in His peace and grace, she found courage to approach the king. Here’s where she really gives us girls some great pointers: she put on her royal robes. She didn’t just dress pretty; she put on the outfit that not only spoke of her royal position as Queen, but also reminded the king that she was his wife and subtly reminded him of the responsibility he carried as her husband. Sparing her life and welcoming her into his presence, he asked her what she wanted. Again, this girl was good: she didn’t ask for anything except to spend time with him – she sought his heart and not his hand. She did this three times. Each time, drawing him closer to her, deepening their relationship through intimacy. And in the midst of this intimacy, when the enemy came in close, she simply identified the threat and her husband stepped up to protect her. She didn’t point fingers, nag or complain; she simply directed his eyes to an enemy and he did the rest.

That was the first lesson I learnt.

The next was a bit more hardcore. Being a Queen like Esther is not all beauty and banquets. After the king steps up to save her (from a death warrant he had initially signed), he again asks her what he can do for her. She doesn’t hold back and promptly starts a war against the enemy. She didn’t just defend her people or fight for justice; she opened the way for their victory. Being positioned ‘royally’ was never for her – God had a purpose to use her for the benefit of those around her. To be a Queen in God’s Kingdom means not only wearing a crown of Grace, but also carrying a sword – and not being afraid of the battles that loom.

To be honest, I still don’t know how this relates to me directly, but I know that the next 72 days will be spent focussing more on the positioning for marriage, than all the beauty and glitz of the wedding.

Breaking Ground

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love; and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.’ – Hosea 10:12

We started our marriage preparation course on Saturday. I had anticipated it being quite hectic (G was as usual, totally calm), but I honestly was not prepared for the revelation of its significance. Yes, we were given anologies of ‘when you want to drive a car, you first go for lessons… and when you want to operate in surgery, you get trained… why should marriage be different?’ I agree completely: being the nerd that I am, (if I can help it), I only step into things after I have prepared for them (being called to live by faith doesnt always allow for that, but in this case, thankfully God has given us a season to prepare).

This morning I sat with Holy Spirit (yay for school holidays) and ‘randomly’ found this scripture in Hosea. Wow. It really spoke so clearly to me regarding this Season of Preparation. Like a farmer prepares the land in the season before wanting to sow seed and hope for a subsequent harvest, so too do we need to prepare ourselves for marriage – and seed can only be sown into ground ready to receive. This morning I realised how much ‘land’ in my heart, mind and life has been allowed to grow wild – untendered and well, possibly just a little feral. Without having anyone to really consider (or keep me in check), I have allowed unhelpful habits and ways of thinking and doing things to creep in like weeds. That ground is definitely not suitable for sowing any kind of seed, let alone hoping to reap a good harvest! And so, the season of breaking ground has begun.

And it is uncomfortable.

Saturday’s session was Communication. An important foundation, but not totally ‘sensitive issue’ stuff, right? Oh, so wrong… my little field was filled with roots and rocks that need removing. The revelation that life is no longer about me or simply doing things as I have always (unquestioningly) done hit home; if I am going to be the best wife for G – the one he needs me to be in order to help him lead us well, and to encourage the best out of him… well, I have some work to do. Yes, the significance of this season lies in the Forever Future ahead of us, but more so, the next 87 days will require me to be more vulnerable, open and humble than I have ever been. And it requires an incredible depth of trust; revealing both the good and bad parts of myself to G, (hoping and praying) and trusting that he will not only accept them and extend grace towards me, but will cover those areas in love (Colossians 3). I am continually in awe and so very grateful that God would give me someone who is not only the most patient man I have ever known, but so kind and gentle in how he draws me out from my fears, insecurities and overthinking head. He leads me well.

So excuse me while I go hunt for some wellies and dungarees and a garden fork… or maybe a tractor and plow may be more useful… there is work to be done – and it doesnt involve colour schemes, flower choices or picking dresses…

( significance of photo: its the view from our venue – and symbolic of looking into the future…)